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How Will You Handle Your Homebuyer Children?

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Honoring warranties is a little like parenting

Today, the homebuyer/homebuilder relationship is akin to that of a parent and child. Funny thing is, while builders will typically provide a workmanship warranty for one year, this is often much more than a one-year relationship unless builders adopt tough-love parenting strategies and push their buyers into accepting responsibility for their own homes. Sound familiar?

Unlike parenting, builders have options for dealing with these “kids.”

Option 1: As a builder, you can self-perform your warranty in house—think biological parents. In this option you need to have staff in place to answer the phone—including 24-hour emergency service, schedule trades, perform walkthroughs, have a warranty in compliance with approved standards, document everything and on and on.

Related: Preparing for Emergency Calls

Typically, in this scenario, your project manager or superintendent is the lucky guy doing all these tasks. The best super, or parent in this analogy, is usually someone who is good at setting a fire under subs and getting things done, though maybe not an awesome people-person. If you’re asking your not-so-good people-person to be friendly with your homeowners as they criticize everything he has done for a year, that sounds like the precarious teen-parent relationship to me.

Option 2: Outsource it to a third party—think Mary Poppins. As in the movie, Mary Poppins wasn’t all about yes, yes, yes. She made the kids take their medicine, albeit with a spoonful of sugar. Mary is a third-party parent, and in this case, the kids will behave differently than they will for their own parents. She can set expectations for them and manage them for the year. Mary will handle all the trade scheduling, and of course, we know her people skills are outstanding. I mean, who doesn’t love supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

Related: Balancing Insurance, Contracts and Warranties with Professional Support

Option 3: Totally ignore and neglect your children. This will certainly involve social services and attorney’s fees. Parents who go this route don’t typically have more kids or the best reputation. Builders who use the same approach with their homeowners can expect a similar fate.

Consider your options wisely and all the costs involved in those options. Those include hard costs—materials, studs, screws—and soft costs—superintendent lost production time, office staff answering phone calls, scheduling trades, brain damage etc. Soft costs are hard to put a number on but add up, often faster than the hard costs. Enjoy with a spoonful of sugar.

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